Several Snopes readers contacted us in March 2022 to inquire about the veracity and provenance of statements claimed to basketball icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in which he harshly chastised Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock at that year’s Academy Awards.
For example, SportsKeeda.com published an article with the headline “‘He did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face’: Kareem Abdul Jabbar slams Will Smith over Chris Rock Oscars slap.”
On social media, a lengthy message — attributed to Abdul-Jabbar — went viral. It typically began:
When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community…Social media posts
Those quotations were genuine, and Abdul-Jabbar wrote the telegram himself.
In a March 28 article titled “Will Smith Did a Bad, Bad Thing,” Abdul-Jabbar added the subheadline “Slapping Chris Rock was also a blow to men, women, the entertainment industry, and the Black community” to his Substack page: